Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring

Petroleum refinery alkylation process

September 2020 Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring

The SensoTech LiquiSonic is an inline analytical system for determining the concentration of binary liquids directly in the production process. The analyser is mostly used for phase separation and reaction monitoring in refineries, with sensor installation within the product stream, thus meaning an extremely fast measurement that responds immediately to process changes for optimum control.

Motor fuel alkylation using liquid hydrofluoric (HF) or sulphuric (H2SO4) acids is a catalytic process used in petroleum refinery operations. The purpose of the alkylation is to improve fuel properties to achieve higher octane for lower emissions which is an important process in petrochemical alkylation operations.

While the H2SO4 alkylation scores points with safety and environmental protection aspects, the HF alkylation typically shows efficient acid recycling. Olefins and the isoalkanes from raw oil resulting from fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) constitute the starting materials. Together with HF and/or H2SO4 as catalyst, high-grade alkylates are formed. Due to their high-octane rating, few aromatic compounds and comparably environmentally friendly properties, they are perfectly suitable for petrol blending from both an economic and an ecologic point of view.

The most important requirement for the alkylation system is error-free operation to prevent e.g. an ‘acid runaway’, which can occur when the acid strength goes below 85-87%. In this case the reactions between the olefins and the iso-butane turn into reactions of olefins only, producing polymers known as acid sludge, red oil or ASO (acid soluble oil). To prevent this, control of the acid, water and ASO quantity is of particular importance.

Traditional sampling is potentially very dangerous, time intensive and the results only arrive after some hours of laboratory testing. Here the LiquiSonic scores points with immediate inline analysis and data recording as well as increased system productivity and safety.

The robust LiquiSonic measuring technology has set benchmarks in 3-component analysis for years. Using select specialty materials, it effectively prevents corrosion, abrasion and drift, even under difficult conditions. The LiquiSonic immersion sensors can be easily installed directly into the pipeline and are ATEX-, IECEx- and FM-certified.

Possible installation locations include upstream and downstream of the acid separator, and at the alkylate outlet of the iso stripper. Despite difficult, corrosive process conditions, utilising materials such as Hastelloy C-276 or Monel, long-term system stability is possible.


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Water and wastewater treatment in the digital age
Endress+Hauser South Africa Editor's Choice Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring
In these testing times of declining water security, IoT technology has been proven to boost operational efficiency and inform smart investment decisions.

New webpage showcases natural gas plant analysers
Elemental Analytics News Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring
Flagship products include multi-component odorant monitoring, hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide measurement, BTEX analysis and saybolt readings.

Versatile handheld indoor air quality meters
GHM Messtechnik SA Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring
Both instruments are easy to handle and compact in design, and can be charged easily with a mobile phone cord.

Digitally managing energy costs and decarbonisation
Yokogawa South Africa Electrical Power & Protection Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring
Real-time data combined with a single, asset-wide digital twin and proprietary analytics capabilities enable automatic opportunity identification and performance gap breakdown.

Modified atmosphere packaging – making the right choice of gas analysis
Elemental Analytics Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring
Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is used within the food and pharmaceutical sectors to extend the shelf life of many products that would otherwise deteriorate quickly in the presence of oxygen. It ...

Reducing the carbon footprint of milk production
Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring
The certified Valio Carbo environmental calculator is used in monitoring the carbon balance of Valio dairy farms. In 2021, more than a thousand of them (about a quarter of all the company’s dairy farms) ...

Avoiding South Africa’s water crisis
Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring
Collaboration and technology can make South Africa a water-secure nation.

Electrical measurement and process analytics for hydrogen production
Mecosa Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring
Knick products optimise the hydrogen production process and electrolyser operation.

Non-Nuclear online slurry density measurement
Allpronix Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring
When a local metal smelting operation had a requirement to remove manual sampling from its slurry line, Allpronix was approached to advise on a solution.

Portable combustion gas analyser
Elemental Analytics Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring
The E8500 Plus is a powerful and advanced portable emissions analyser, a complete, portable tool for EPA compliance and level emissions monitoring of boilers, engines and other combustion equipment.